PITTSBURG, Kan. — The Pittsburg City Commission this week approved purchasing approximately 192 acres located north of Atkinson and west of Free King Highway for $1.2 million and annexing it into the city for use as a future industrial park.
“We only have so much industrial park space in the city,” said City Manager Daron Hall. “We’re very fortunate that we’ve got a lot of growth in the businesses that are in our industrial parks, and the few acres that we have unallocated are currently being sought after. What we don’t have is a very large, new, undeveloped industrial park with rail access, next to a highway, which this is.”
Hall said there are already businesses interested in buying or leasing property in the new industrial park.
“So this is a huge opportunity for us,” he said. “It is adjacent to our existing industrial park, the utilities are already there, obviously Atkinson is an important road, and the highway is just a couple of miles to the north, so it’s a fantastic site for us.”
Pittsburg’s Economic Development Advisory Committee has recommended allowing the city to spend up to $903,000 out of its Revolving Loan Fund to buy the land, Hall said, “but we’ll probably take half of it from there and half of it from the general fund, just so we don’t impact one fund too much.”
As stipulated by the city’s agreement with the sellers of the land, Jim and Linda Russell, the industrial park planned for the property will be called Montee Industrial Park. The agreement also requires that the initial road constructed on the property by the city be called Russell Street or Russell Road.
“I think we already have a Russell Street or a Russell Road, so what do we do?” asked Mayor Chuck Munsell.
Although the city currently has a short street called Russell Street located east of Rouse and between 20th and 22nd streets, not far from the planned industrial park, Hall said the new roadway in the industrial park could be called Russell Road.
Asked whether the city will be selling or leasing property at the industrial park to businesses, Hall said it would have either option.
“With 192 acres, you could sell a 50-acre site to somebody and still have plenty of industrial park left,” he said.
City of Pittsburg Economic Development Director Blake Benson, who is also president of the Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce, commented on the land purchase in a press release from the city on Wednesday.
“This property is crucial to our continued economic development efforts,” Benson said. “Over the past three years, we’ve received several requests for large tracts of land, located near city utilities and with rail access. This property checks all of those boxes and will be extremely attractive for future development.”
At Tuesday’s city commission meeting when the purchase was approved, meanwhile, Commissioner Patrick O’Bryan thanked his colleague Commissioner Larry Fields for helping to negotiate the deal.
“We wouldn’t be at this point with this piece of property if it wasn’t for Larry Fields stepping in and moving the ball,” O’Bryan said.
Fields, for his part, said the land sale was in the works for many years, though those involved in the negotiations kept them quiet.
“There’s going to be people who are going to criticize us, and the city, and city staff, and city management. ‘Well, why didn’t I know about that? Why didn’t you talk about that?’” Fields said. “It’s very, very simple. If you’re going to buy something, you don’t want to tell everybody in the county you’re going to buy it, because all that does is run the price up.”
While there may be those who disagree, Fields said, he is personally confident that the property will be a worthwhile investment for the city.
“It’s going to do long term benefits for Pittsburg and the citizens of Pittsburg, and create new jobs and new opportunities,” he said. “In my opinion — just my opinion — it’s going to be a great asset for the City of Pittsburg.”